Jeff Nathanson, who wrote Steven Spielberg’s look at a con man and check forger, Catch Me If You Can, is going back into the world of lying with a movie about the rise and fall of Milli Vanilli. No, this is not a Behind the Music special – Nathanson is making a real movie at Universal about the duo.
Some of you may be too young to really understand what Milli Vanilli meant to our nation. After decades of the Cold War and after our faith in the system was shattered by the lightly-covered Iran/Contra hearings, we were not ready to trust. But Rob and Fab, aka Milli Vanilli, won our hearts and our delicate belief with their immortal ode to love, Girl You Know It’s True. But what wasn’t true was their singing – the dark secret was that, as opposed to most pop stars who are filled with boundless rivers of talent, ability and sheer genius, Rob and Fab weren’t singing their own songs.
The fall of Milli Vanilli was hard, and ushered in a dark era of Clintonian peace and prosperity. Rob and Fab demanded to sing their own songs, and rather than give in, their manager exposed the truth, opening everybody up to some pretty silly class action lawsuits. The following years were tough for the two, who became the poster boys for lip synching and lying. Eventually, Rob could no longer take the shame, and killed himself, thus forever denying himself a spot in the Surreal Life house. Unless the Devil operates one in Hell, which is actually a pretty good idea for a McSweeney’s piece.
"I’ve always been fascinated by the notion of fakes and frauds, and in this case, you had guys who pulled off the ultimate con, selling 30 million singles and 11 million albums and then becoming the biggest laughing-stocks of pop entertainment," Nathanson said. "Fabrice had always refused to sell their rights; he was very cautious of Hollywood after all he’d been through. But my intention is to tell this story from their point of view."
Nathanson will write and direct the film as soon as Rush Hour 3, which he scripted, is done shooting. Not that I would use that film in an article about frauds to make any sort of point or anything.